Royal Bank of Canada has decided to end its endorsement relationship with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and 2010 U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell.
“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” the banking giant said in a statement to Sportico. “We wish them well in their future endeavours.”
Johnson was the biggest name of the 42 entries announced Tuesday for the LIV Golf Invitational Series’ first event at London’s Centurion Club, due to start June 9. He has been a significant RBC sponsor since 2018. The news sent shock waves through the golf community because the LIV event shares a date with the Canadian Open, where RBC is the main sponsor.
“RBC is a proud partner of the PGA Tour. Our partnership is anchored with two world-class golf tournaments—the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open,” RBC said in a statement on Tuesday. “We were recently made aware that Dustin Johnson made the decision to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener. DJ has been a valued RBC team member since 2018. While we are extremely disappointed in his decision, we wish him well.”
After sleeping on Johnson’s surprise entry, RBC decided to cut ties. The 2020 Masters winner ranked third last year in Sportico’s ranking of highest-paid golfers with $40.8 million between June 2020 and May 2021, including $16 million off the course. It was a record 12 months for the 37-year-old, thanks to winning the 2020 FedEx Cup and its $15 million bonus. He also pocketed a big appearance fee for an event in Saudi Arabia.
“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off and on for the past couple of years. Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,” David Winkle, Johnson’s manager at Hambric Sports, told The Associated Press in a text message on Tuesday.
(This story has been updated in the last paragraph to correct the spelling of David Winkle’s name.)